(Sept. 7, 2004, initial post w/ details to follow) -- At its Sept. 7 meeting, the LB City Council voted 8-0 (Councilwoman Lowenthal absent for entire meeting) to direct the City Manager to communicate forthwith to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that the City of Long Beach urges him to sign AB 2042, a bill intended to keep Port growth from increasing air pollutants beyond 2004 levels.
The action comes despite opposition to the bill from the Port of LB, including a recent statement by its Executive Director supporting a veto of the bill.
The Council action was the latest indication of discontent between LB's elected Councilmembers and LB's non-elected (Mayor nominated, Council approved) Board of Harbor Commissioners. In May, the Harbor Commissioners voted to oppose AB 2042...one day before the Council voted to support it...and the Port has taken positions on other legislative matters inconsistent with Council adopted policies.
City Attorney Robert Shannon told the Council that the Harbor Commission has detailed, broadly stated powers under the City Charter to govern matters within the Harbor District...including legislative advocacy.
The Council held over to a future time (no date set, effectively indefinitely) discussion of a Charter Amendment(s) that (subject to a vote of the people) could change the way the Port is currently governed.
7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga, who had co-agendized the item, indicated she'd held discussions earlier in the day with some Harbor Commission members that produced agreement to hold meetings involving Council members and Harbor Commissioners with the goal of improving communication.
Speaking from the Council podium, Harbor Commission President John Calhoun indicated Harbor Commissioners would welcome such discussions with Councilmembers...and said these could take place in what he described as a more informal setting instead of a formal Council meeting. He also indicated that the Port would make public its legislative agenda (positions on pending state and federal legislation), something it does not currently routinely do.
8th district Councilwoman Rae Gabelich indicated she favored pursuing the Charter Amendment route now. Her position was supported by public speakers Bry Myown and John Deats.
Later, during discussion of whether the Council should approve the Port's budget or amend it (as allowed to the Council), Councilmembers asked what effect refusal to do so might have on City Hall. City Attorney Shannon indicated that the Harbor Commission had voted earlier in the day to approve transfer of part of its revenue to City Hall's Tidelands Operating Fund...and if the Council didn't approve the Port's budget as the Harbor Commission adopted it, that transfer could not take place immediately.
Councilman Dan Baker indicated he plans to press for a Charter Amendment that will make the Port's annual transfer of a part of its revenue to City Hall automatic to avoid having the Tidelands revenue transfer held hostage (his term) by the Port. That remark brought Harbor Commissioner James Hankla to the podium, who took issue with the "hostage" reference. Commissioner Hankla said the Port's revenue transfer was contingent on the Board of Harbor Commissioners making certain findings...and if the Council amended the budget, that might change those findings.
The Council voted to approve the Port's budget 6-2 (Gabelich and Lerch dissenting).
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